Pfizer vaccine less effective in South Africa after Omicron emerges

Study shows that two doses of Pfizer- BioNTech's jab offer 70% protection against hospitalization currently.

Since the Omicron variant surfaced last month, Pfizer- BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine has been less effective in keeping patients infected with the virus out of hospitals in South Africa, according to a real-world study released on Tuesday. The study found that between Nov 15th and Dec 7th, people who had received two doses of the vaccine had a 70% chance of avoiding hospitalization, compared to 93% during the prior wave of Delta infections. When it comes to completely avoiding infection, the study by Discovery Health, South Africa's largest private health insurance administrator, revealed that protection against COVID-19 had dropped to 33% from 80% previously. Discovery's clinical research and actuarial teams collaborated with the South African Medical Research Council to analyze the study's findings.

In November, South Africa alerted the rest of the globe about Omicron, raising fears that it could lead to the latest wave of worldwide infections and travel restrictions in the region. South Africa's daily infections have grown to more than 20,000, according to numbers released on Tuesday, with 35 percent of tests coming back positive, 600 hospital admissions, and 24 deaths. The South African study was based on more than 211,000 COVID-19 test results of which 78,000 were attributed to Omicron, the variant labelled "of concern" by the World Health Organization and reported in more than 60 countries. South Africa is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in its COVID-19 immunisation campaign, with more than 20 million Pfizer doses administered so far.